Graduation

photo (1)The class of 2013 graduated this weekend!  Both the graduations for Thomas Worthington High School and Worthington Kilbourne High Schools were held in Battelle Hall in downtown Columbus.  Another great class of Worthington students is off to create their future.

Late last week Dr. Tucker and I met to plan for a graduation contingency.  He was set to address both graduating classes but also needed to travel to Kansas City for a family funeral on Saturday.  His intention, and travel plans, would allow him to be back just in time for the 12:00 P.M. TWHS graduation but he felt like he needed a back-up plan just in case something went wrong.  I was the back-up plan.  If for some reason he didn’t make it back I would address the graduating class in his place.

photo (44)I of course thought this was awesome!  Immediately I began to think of my speech.  Soon I was believing that an inspired student would video the talk and upload it to You-Tube.  Likely, it would be compared favorably to Steve Job’s epic speech at Stanford University’s graduation.  I was pretty far along in this daydream with Dr. Tucker brought me back to reality.  He had some prepared remarks that I would read and then he asked that I prepare two or three minutes worth of personal remarks.  His prepared remarks were around 12 minutes but I think he felt that if I spoke that long surely I would screw it up.  (He didn’t say that, but I’m pretty good at reading between the lines…and he may have been right.)

Knowing Dr Tucker I knew it would take a natural disaster to keep him from graduation so I didn’t want to invest many hours in preparing a speech that likely would never be used.  However, “winging” my first graduation speech would not be fair to the students, nor would it likely be good for my career.  So, Friday morning I got to work around 6:00 A.M., made a pot of coffee, and used the quiet to craft my thoughts.

I believe remarks from administration at graduation should be fairly short.  Students want to hear from their peers and even from their principals who they have relationships with.  I also believe they should be simple and straightforward.  My hope was to create something that students could take with them as they move forward.

Here’s what I had planned to say:

To the 2013 Graduating Class of Thomas Worthington High School:  Thank You Mr. Gaskill for the generous welcome!

Staff Members, Board of Education Members, Parents of the Class of 2013.  Above All, Members of the Thomas Worthington Class of 2013.  Please give yourself a round of applause.  Your big day has finally arrived!  The next time you look around and auditorium or football stadium and see your class dressed in robes your parents will have paid a hefty college tuition.  Enjoy this day!

For the parents and grandparents, the brothers and sisters, who are with us today, we say thank you for sharing your students.

Graduates, please join me in applauding your families and friends for everything they have done for you to make today’s celebration possible.

Now, I would like to share with you some of the lessons I continue to learn from life.  As a proud graduate of Worthington High School, class of 1991 I once sat in seat similar to you.  My class graduated in Mershon auditorium on an early June evening.  Since that evening life has taught me many lessons.  Some I learned the hard way.  In thinking about what I wanted to share with you as you start a new segment of your life I came down to this simple message:

As a graduate of Thomas Worthington High School you are well prepared for whatever you will attempt next in life.  Your high school offers a wide breath of rigorous and relevant coursework and is staffed with an incredibly talented teaching staff.  Wherever you go next you will be prepared for the academic work.

You must walk into the world with confidence in yourself!  In 2004 Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a Harvard professor, published her book “Confidence, How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End” Dr. Kanter researched highly successful teams and she documented how successful teams, organizations, and people think differently than others.  Successful teams believe they are going to win.  No matter what the circumstance they find themselves in, when challenged most, they rise up and dig deep.  They compete harder and they often do win.  Conversely, teams on losing streaks act differently.  When challenged, subconsciously they begin to lose belief.  They don’t respond with increased effort, but with a little less effort.

How does this research relate to you on graduation day?  Henry Ford said it best “whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re probably right!”

As a Graduate of Thomas Worthington High School you are prepared to move on.  As you move on you must do so with confidence in yourself and a belief that you will be successful.  Some of you will face challenges and difficulty as early as this summer, for some those challenges will come next year, for a lucky few, it may be several years.  But, make no mistake:  in this life will come some trouble.  When it comes you will need to dig down, to work harder, and to give the extra effort needed for success.  You may be tempted to quit.  But as a graduate of Thomas Worthington High School you won’t quit.  You have learned what it takes to be successful and you can apply those skills throughout your life. 

Believe in yourself!  Have confidence in your abilities.  When challenges come your way use that confidence and belief to summon greater effort and resolve.  You will be successful.  Go forth and make Worthington proud!

As expected Dr. Tucker was home in time for graduation (the guy is a machine, there was no chance he was going to miss).  The day was a great day all around.  The children are our future and we’re in great hands with the class of 2013!

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